Berlin’s Jewish Museum opens a new children’s wing inspired by Noah’s Ark
Opening in 2020, ANOHA – the Children’s World of the Jewish Museum, Berlin, is a dedicated creative space for curious minds between the ages of three and ten. Located across the road from the existing Jewish Museum, the space is divided into six different areas that encourage visitors to reflect on the intertwined stories of people, animals and nature and how they can coexist respectfully with today’s humanitarian and ecological challenges. Adopting the story of Noah and the Great Flood from the Torah but with a modern perspective, the museum’s installations feature over 150 different animals made from recycled materials and a gigantic wooden ark.
“We want children to come not just as visitors but as co-designers. At ANOHA, they can and should be active,” says Martin Michaelis, managing director of the Jewish Museum Berlin. “We have an unusually young audience for a cultural history museum—every fifth visitor is under 20 years old. With the opening of ANOHA, we are creating a permanent space for the youngest of these visitors to play and learn, a place that appeals to all children and families.”
There’s usually one cardinal rule for every museum-goer: don’t touch the art. But at ANOHA, they’re bending the rules and inviting guests to touch, inspect and interact with everything on display, from climbing onto a boa constrictor to lounging in a slot’s nest. They can even see how animals interact the world, discovering it from an owl’s-eye-view, the nose of a rat, or with a hamster’s whiskers, highlighting the importance of diverse perspectives. The message here is: “everyone is different and together we’re strong.”
Designed by Seattle-based architecture firm Olson Kundig, the museum features a seven-metre tall wooden ark inspired by the ark Noah used to escape the Great Flood in the Torah. Rather than mimic historic biblical art forms though, designers created a modern ark inspired by the ship from Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey and an ancient Sumerian text that describes a circular ark.
“Our design approach for ANOHA was to create an experience that provides a sense of hope and possibility to the people who visit it,” says Olson Kundig Design Principal Alan Maskin.
The museum was created with the help of a children’s advisory council from local schools, who, from 2017, met once a month with the Jewish Museum to test the planned installations and give feedback, as well as share their desires for the museum, some of which were then realised as installations.
ANOHA will open on 17 May, 2020.